Iconic Colony House Furniture Store to Sell Property, Relocate

by ARLnow.com January 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm 9,540 40 Comments

A “for sale or lease” sign on the side of Colony House Furniture at 1700 Lee Highway has prompted a number of people to email us and ask what’s going on with the iconic, 54-year-old store. Today, owner J.R. Diffee provided an answer.

The business plans to cash in on its prime real estate and relocate.

“This is not a going out of business,” Diffee said emphatically. “The property is for sale, the business is not.”

Diffee says he anticipates a developer buying the property, then leasing it back to the store until building permits are approved. In the meantime, Diffee says he will be looking for a new location.

Will he move the store to another address in Arlington?

“I’d love to,” said Diffee, an Arlington Chamber of Commerce board member. “I have three kids in Arlington Public Schools… I buy into the Arlington Way.”

Diffee said that while the furniture business was hurt by the recession, sales at the store were up 7.5 percent last year. Still, he said that the property the store has occupied since 1957 — adjacent to I-66 and within a long walk ofย  Rosslyn and Courthouse — is now worth more to a developer than it is to a furniture store.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    My entire downstairs is outfitted with Banker furniture from Colony House. Hope they stay in business. They were great to deal with.

    • G. Clifford Prout

      Oops that’s Baker furniture, but certainly fit for a banker.

      • It’s better than Wanker furniture.

    • Bedroom

      Our bedroom is fully furnished by Colony House. A great family friend used to work there after selling furniture at the major retailers (most of whom have stopped selling furniture).

      • g_clifford_prout

        Locally owned businesses need to be supported. I rue the day a Pottery Barn goes in there.

  • RJ


  • mehoo

    Just convert the store to fully furnished condos.

  • Oh Oh… I have an idea!

    What a spot that would be for Dr. Dremos par Deux.

    • MB


  • bob

    Put some affordable housing in to compete the ghetto there: Rosslyn Heights, Rosslyn Vue and the new Colony House Apartments. Should do wonders for street crime.

    • smm

      bob i don’t know what kind of mcmansion you live in, but rosslyn heights and rosslyn vue are pretty far from being ghetto.

    • RJ

      This is a pretty hilarious comment

  • bananapeel

    no more condos. again…No More condos. A-town’s population is reaching a tipping point. I second Dr. Dremo’s! That was a classy establishment that gave Arlington a good dose of grit and character that it otherwise lacks. Arlington is severely lacking joints like Dr. Dremo’s.

    (so says a 26 year resident of Arlington)

    • mehoo

      Agree 100% – Dremo’s rocked. There’s always a narrow window of just a few years, between blight and yuppification, when cool stuff reigns.

  • tuesdayschild

    It is sort of oddly positition property for condos. I would think that a developer would try to put the property together with the adjacent property and redevelop the combined larger piece.

  • ChrisW

    Waffle House would fit quite nicely!

  • Novanglus

    Probably luxury apartments. The condo and office markets are still soft, and I’m sure he’s selling to the highest bidder, not to APAH or AHC.

    There’s plenty of large retail for lease further up Lee Highway — the old Cherrydale autoparts comes to mind, and a few warehouses between Glebe and Geo Mason.

    • Lou

      It’s in the land use plan as low-medium residential, although currently zoned for commercial. I’m sure nothing will get built there that does not conform to the GLUP, meaning residential only.

  • a’town

    great place for a high rise!!

  • Courthouse Resident

    What will WTOP use as a landmark now? They won’t be able to say “The furniture store” when giving listeners a break-a-way point on 66.

    • Jennifer

      I didn’t realize WTOP used it as a landmark, but I do! It’s not really in a great spot to put something there that would have a lot of traffic, but I guess we’ll just have to see.

  • Jaun

    i propose a community center

  • YourWaitTimeIs5Days

    This is just the kind of “micro” story that ArlNow is great for – and that no other outlet would provides. Thanks ArlNow.

    • Agree

      Great comment. I saw they were closing (I guess relocating) and googled it and ArlNow was the only link to the story. many thanks!

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    “The Arlington Way?” Is that like The American Way, with more cupcakes and bike lanes? ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Oldie but goodie

      Dude you’re obviously a newbie who doesn’t get involved in your community if you don’t know what the Arlington Way is.

      • MB

        I think you’ve ID’d about 90% of commenters.

  • Vinh An Nguyen

    The business plans to cash in on its prime real estate

    They are about five years too late to “cash in” on real estate.

  • Maxine LUnn

    I haven’t bought from them since the great 10 month wait for a bedroom set “it’s on the truck” debacle. Nice inventory but I had a bad experience.

  • Dr. Dremos is Bardos to Me

    they are going to get a rude awakening if they think they are going to cash in here… the site doesnt work due to the steep grade above it. It is about as inefficient as they come. It could work as a small association headquarters building, but aside from that, I doubt the luxury condo/gormet burger/cupcake/irish bar fusion that we so desperately need here will come to frution.

    • Bluemont John

      +1 for creatively accurate sarcastic phrasing (cupcake/Irish bar).

  • cubby j

    i’ve been wondering for years when this was going to happen.

  • Jeff

    We hope they stay in Arlington!

  • Arlwhenever

    Of course Mr. Diffee supports the Arlington Way, his property is assessed at $5.1 million. With the development density that the Arlington Way facilitates he ought to be able to get $10 to $15 million for the property, more than enough to send all his kids to whatever school he desires in perpetuity. The tax-code favored REIT’s are lining up to put in bids as we spead.

  • TGEoA

    Sorry, but this store is an overpriced version of Mastercraft Interiors.

    I’ve pieces in there I wanted and did some calling around and found Greenfront in Manassas which sold them to me for 30% off Colony’s final quote. And I didn’t even have to go out there, I just called them.

  • AJKS

    Way too small for a REIT. Small local developer if any.

    • Arlwhenever

      The marketplace is flush with so-called private REITs, some that work on a smaller scale than the big boys like Vornado, Simon and Avalon Bay. Archstone is out there as well (now privately held); they have a history with small upscale devlelopments. These days, when the small local guys are involved they are usually fronting for others/have a minority interest in the property.

    • Arlwhenever

      Saul Centers is a REIT, trades on the NYSE ticker symbol BFS.

  • My understanding is this property was sold to Saul Centers, Inc. or B F Saul Hotels Division. The intent is to build an extended stay hotel at this location.

    Someone from B F Saul is scheduled to present at the North Rosslyn Civic Association Meeting tonight, May 19, at 7:00 pm. The meeting is at The Atrium, 1530 Key Blvd. Residents and guests are welcome to come listen.

  • Dee DeToro

    PLEASE PLEASE save us all the IMPOSSIBLE problem of looking for your replacement – there IS NONE!!!
    ARE you reopening? If so -when and where please…
    Thanks, a devoted patron


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